Who are the True Jacobites: The House of Stewart or the House of Wittlesbach?
By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 1999
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)
In Volume 2#1 of Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, we published an extensive interview with Prince Michael Stewart of Albany, who claims to be the rightful heir to the throne of Scotland, descended from Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart), the last Stuart to make a popular run for kingship. At the time of the publication we received correspondence from a number of people who believed Prince Michael’s claim to be fraudulent. These people said that the true heirs to the Stuart titles were the Bavarian House of Wittlesbach, the inheritance now resting with Francis II, who succeeded his father, Prince Albrecht in 1996. Since then we have confirmed that such a rival does exist. This information can be found by visiting their website, “The Jacobite Heritage.” As their opening page proclaims, “The Jacobites deny the validity of the usurpation of the throne by the Prince and Princess of Orange, next by Princess Anne of Denmark, and finally by the Elector Georg I of Hanover and his heirs.” It goes on, stating that “For the Jacobites, King James II and VII continued to reign until his death in 171. He was succeeded by his son, James III and VIII, who in turn was succeeded by his sons, Charles II (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and Henry IX and I (Cardinal Henry).” After Henry’s death in 1807, the Jacobites believe, the legitimate male line of the Stuarts became extinct, and the succession then passed on to the senior heir of old King Charles I, who was Prince Charles Emanuel IV of Savoy, a descendant of King Charles through his youngest daughter, Henrietta. From there the succession has passed on to the current Duke Francis (Franz) of Bavaria. States the web page, “Jacobites believe that the king holds his authority directly from Almighty God, not that this authority has been delegated to the king by Parliament, a statement also made quite fervently by the Jacobite rival, Prince Michael Stewart.
Prince Michael’s story, written down in his best-selling book, The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland (Element Books, Ltd.) goes that Charles Edward’s Stuart’s marriage to Louise de Stolberg was annulled, and that he married another woman who produced a rightful heir, his ancestor and supposed link to the Stuart throne. Prince Michael claims that Louise convinced the king’s brother, Cardinal Henry, as well as the Pope that Charles was mistreating her. Then it was discovered that she was having an affair with Count Vittoriao Alfieri, and had hatched the plot to deceive the Pope and the Cardinal in a conspiracy with the Count. When this came out the Pope banished Alfieri from the country. Bonnie Prince Charlie then enlisted the help of King Gustavus II of Sweden and petitioned the Vatican for a divorce on the grounds that (a.) Louise was barren and therefore could not fulfill her purpose of creating an heir; and (b.) the affair had made her “unworthy of marital office,” even though the Prince himself had several illegitimate children himself. The marriage was formally annulled, according to Prince Michael, by Pope Pius VI on April 3, 1784. He published a letter repudiating his ex-wife that was “worded by an Italian notary,” according to Prince Michael. He then write that “it is recorded in the Church annals of Rome and in our family archives that on 26 December 1785, at the age of nearly 65 he was married again to the Comtesse de Massillan, a cousin by descent from King Charles II.” His marriage to Marguerite Marie ThÃ©rÃ¨se O’Dea d’Audibert de Lussan was purportedly conducted at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Rome. “Her family background was totally Jacobite,” he writes, “with a number of specific mentions in the records of St. Germain” He then lists a good number of her ancestors, and quotes a “Latin extract” about the marriage from the church it was supposedly performed at. The following year, on the 15th of November, 1786, says Stewart, she gave birth to a son named Edouard Jacques Stuardo (Edward James Stuart), Duke of Kendall and Kintire. “For reasons of security,” writes Michael, “the birth took place at her cousin Prince Cosini’s house in Rome. The returned to their own residence, “Palazzo Muti,” where the child became “an incognito addition to the sons and daughters of Charles Edward’s retainer at the Jacobite court.” But when word of the birth finally did reach the Hanoverian regime, “the facts were quickly suppressed.” And this is why the birth of Prince Edward James is not recognized by historians. Bonnie Prince Charlie died on January 30, 1788.
The Hanoverian government decided to honor the will Prince Charles made in 1784 passing his inheritance Cardinal Henry (Duke of York, Bishop of Frascati), who was himself childless. Cardinal Henry quickly declared himself King Henry of Scots, Henry IX of England, and issued a manifesto to every Court in Europe proclaiming his rights to the Four Crowns of Scotland, England, Ireland and France. He even changed his Coat of Arms to that of a king, and had medals struck to commemorate the occasion. Cardinal Henry’s own will was honored when he died, and the Stuart titles passed on to Charles Emmanuel IV, ex-king of Sardinia. “By way of marriage in the female lines from Charles Emmanuel’s brother Victor Emmanuel I,,” writes Prince Michael, “Prince Albrecht of Bavaria has long been the commonly recognized heir to the Stuarts, with a somewhat tenuous ancestry back to Henrietta, a daughter of Charles I.
But Prince Michael says that after shortly before his death, Charles Edward Stuart had written his last Will and Testament in his diary. This will revoked the earlier will leaving everything to Cardinal Henry, and instead passed the Stuart inheritance on to Prince Edward James, who should have succeeded his father as king de jure upon his 16th birthday, with Cardinal Henry as his Regent in the meantime. This final will and the details of Charles’ final weeks were removed from the diary and given to King George III, eventually ending up in the hands of the House of Windsor.
On the “Jacobite Heritage” web page there is a point-by-point refutation of the claims of Prince Michael. One is that his marriage to Louise was never annulled. Writes the unnamed author, “Anybody familiar with the laws of the Catholic Church” would know that infidelity and infertility are not considered sufficient reasons to annul a marriage. The author says there is “absolutely no evidence” for any such annulment ever being sought or granted. Next the author contests Prince Michael’s assertion that “Stuart archives in Rome and Brussels” confirm the marriage. The author states that these archives are “absolutely unknown to scholars.” He or she then contests the name of Charles’ supposed second wife, saying that “Prince Michael begins a pattern of attributing to people the surnames of their maternal ancestors; Marguerite O’Dea may have been descended in the female line from Audibert and Lussan, but she has no right to use these surnames herself. She was not a member of the great French families of Audibert or Lussan and has no right to the title “comtesse de Massilan.”
The author then attacks the Latin extract that Prince Michael has offered as proof of the royal wedding, commenting first that “One wonders how a Belgian notary would be able to authenticate a record supposedly in Rome. Then the author states that the date of the document is a fabrication because “In the Roman calendar, “XXVI Kal Dec.” (the date given) “would (if it existed be the 25th (sic) day before the Kalends of December; this is comparable to saying the 39th of December — there is no such date!
Next the author moves on to the claim that Charles Edward and Marguerite gave birth to a legitimate son, Edouard Jacques Stuardo. Remarking on the mix of French, German and Italian names, the author remarks that this “seems merely to be a ploy to appear aristocratic and mysterious.” Prince Michael has said that while news of the birth was “concealed from the British public,” it was “no secret in Europe.” The web page author notes that he “however cites no evidence of this European knowledge f anyone entitled ‘Count Stuarton.’” The author also picks apart the other Latin extract cited by Prince Michael confirming the birth. This document reads, verbatim:
“Eduardo Jacobi, Dux Kintyriis et Kendalae, Scot., Angl., Franc., Hib., et Pol. Princeps, Fil. Carolus III Stuartus Fid. Def. et Margarita de Masaillanas, Mag. Brit. Franc., et Hibernia Rex et Regina, natus XV Kal. Oct. Anno MDCCLXXXVI.”
To this document, the author of the web page responds:
“There are so many signs that this extract is a forgery. First, Charles III is never called Charles III or king during his lifetime by any except his most devoted Jacobite supporters; he certainly would not be referred to in this way in a baptismal register in the city of Rome where the pope was insistent that he must use an alias. Second, the person who created this record had extremely poor knowledge of Latin grammar and spelling; he was most certainly not a Catholic priest of the eighteenth century. Eduardo Jacobi is in the dative or ablative case, while the titles of duke (Dux) andprince (Princeps) and the word born (natus) are in the nominative case. No legitimate son of Charles III would be a prince of Poland (Pol. Princeps); this is another example of “Prince Michael” attaching to persons titles or names held by their maternal ancestors. Edward James is described as the son of Charles and Margaret (Fil. Carolus . . . et Margarita) — but then the names Carolus and Margarita should be in the genitive case and not the nominative case.”
As to Prince Michael’s assertion that the true wills of Charles II and Cardinal Henry were suppressed in a Hanoverian plot, our author writes “There is of course no evidence for the existence of these other wills of Charles and Henry. The Jacobites had no greater hope than for a legitimate son to be born to Charles. It is preposterous to suggest that is such a child had been born, his birth would not have been publicly celebrated.” Our author moves on to refute Prince Michael’s next wild tale about the Prince Edward James’ supposed grandson, “Prince Charles Benedict James,” who, according to Michael, “was scheduled to attend a grand Stuart Exhibition at the New Gallery, London. But the exhibition was wholly undermined by Hanoverian agents, and Prince Charles Benedict was found dead (presumably murdered) in Italy.” But in contrast the Jacobite web page states that “The Stuart Exhibition organized in London in 1888 under the presidency of Lord Ashburnham is a well-known historical event. There is no evidence for any proposed visit by ‘Prince Charles Benedict’, or for that gentleman’s death.” The author then attacks the authenticity of Prince Michael’s other purported ancestors, such as his supposed grandmother, “Germains Elixa Segers de la Tour d’Auvergne, Princess of Sedan,” who, writes the author, “may have been descended in the female line from the de la Tour family (which became extinct in the male line in the 1790′s), but she had no right to use that surname nor to use the title of Princess of Sedan.” Her brother-in-law, Prince Julius Joseph James, supposedly died in 1985, and it was after his death in 1993 that Prince Michael supposedly celebrated his 30th year as Head of his House, after receiving the title from his great-uncle, Prince Anthony James. But the web page author says that “No explanation is given as to why ‘Prince Anthony James’ was succeeded in 1963 by his great-nephew ‘Prince Michael’ instead of by his brother, ‘Prince Julius’, or by his niece ‘Princess Renee Julienne’, who seems to be equally alive.” The author attacks Prince Michael’s supposed paternal lineage. Prince Michael claims that his father, Baron Gustave Lafosse de Chatry, Comte de Blois” was descended twice from Charlotte, Duchess of Albany, through both of her illegitimate daughters by Prince Ferdinand de Rohan. But the web page states that “there is no record of these two daughters after the death of the Duchess of Albany in 1789.” The author then goes onto question the validity of a whole host of Michael’s purported ancestors on similar grounds.
The most interesting refutation made on this web page is of Prince Michael’s assertion that he is “President of the European Council of Princes (Le Conseil Europeen des Princes) — Un Organe Consultatif Constitutionel,” an organization supposedly founded in 1946 as the International Council of Government with Archduke Otto of Austria (also titular King of Jerusalem) as its President until 1992, when Prince Michael too his place. According to Prince Michael, the heads of all of Europe’s major royal houses are represented on the Council, with the exception of the House of Windsor. writes the author of the web page, “The existence of this body before 1990 cannot be verified. Archduke Otto of Austria has denied that he has ever been a member. The only people who might be members are people who claim legitimate descent from long extinct houses such as Hohenstaufen (i.e., charlatans). ‘Prince Michael’ claims to have connections with many European royal houses; he is, however, never seen at any of their celebrations marking baptisms, birthdays, or funerals.” Why members of the German House of Hohenstaufen would necessarily be charlatans is beyond me, but the rest of the argument, if true is pretty damning.
So what exactly do we have here? I supposed it’s possible that “Prince Michael,” who seemed so honest and well-spoken and knowledgeable, who seemed so honest and true and ‘legitimate’ on the phone in my interview with him. is nothing but a hack prankster like he accused Pierre Plantard of being. It wouldn’t be that surprising. This whole subject of the Grail families is so wrapped in mystery that it’s almost impossible to tell what’s true and what is someone’s idea of a bad joke. Every person involved in this affair, from authors like Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh to powerful figures like George Washington, the Pope or King Louis the XIV of France have been accused of being disingenuous. It is easy to see how this can come about when the entire crux of most of these arguments lies in information that’s hundreds, if not thousands of years old, and is not really verifiable. Nevertheless, the points made by Prince Michael’s detractors cannot be ignored, and the House of Wittlesbach is, after all the generally accepted heir to the Stuart heritage. Perhaps we should just be grateful, as monarchists, that the Jacobite cause still exists in any form, even if it is largely torn by infighting. No matter who’s lying, the fact that the truth is still being debated shows that royal families, and specifically the Grail families are still held to be important by a number of scholars and by large portions of the public. Although the “Jacobite Heritage” web page repeatedly denounces Prince Michael’s claims off his own ancestry, his claims that the Stuart ancestry goes all the way back to the biblical King David, or that the Stuart legacy ties in with all of this Templar and Freemasonic lore — none of these assertions of the esoteric meaning of royal blood were refuted. It is as if these facts are just generally accepted by the aristocratic community, even if they are not widely accepted by the academic community. So perhaps what’s most interesting is not what they chose to argue about, but what they chose not to argue about — that there is, indeed, only one “blood royal: the Sangreal.